When I was a kid, my grandfather would go out to the garden first thing in the morning and come back around noon with an armful of cucumbers and tomatoes.
My grandmother would cut and serve them for lunch. Fresh garden veg is one of my most profound memories of my grandparents.
Today, garden-fresh cukes and tomatoes for lunch.
Just like at my grandparent’s house.
I’ve been working on a seriously chill, romantic, 1920’s vibe in my garden this year. It is starting to come together.
I fell in love with lupines many years ago when I discovered Barbara Cooney’s classic Miss Rumphius.
This sweet tale of Alice Rumphius who planted lupines to make the world a more beautiful place made me long to plant them myself.
So, this year, I did.
As some of you know, Geist inspired me to plant a witch’s garden this year (poison and herbs).
Tending it and watching it emerge has proven one of the sweetest parts of 2019.
My Oriental Poppies spent the week unfolding their velvety goodness:
So we could share in this gorgeousness:
Pansies fade and leave behind these little seed wonders:
My Spotted Lilies burst their seeds to make sure the garden is packed with them next year.
The chamomile blossoms coat just about every nook and cranny of the herb garden, which means time for a bit of a harvest:
Tea mixing is something of an art that I started working with earlier this year. My herb gardens are, for the most part, planted with tea mixtures in mind.
This is my first tea of the season – Iranian rose and apple mint, dried yesterday and mixed this morning.
I just brewed the first cup. Absolutely romantic and soothing, like a gentle breeze whisking all cares away.
Rose and mint have a long magickal and folkloric history:
Pliny describes peppermint as a common head wreath, table decoration, and flavoring agent for wines and sauces at Greek and Roman feasts. There is evidence of peppermint cultivation by the Egyptians, and it is mentioned in 13th-century Icelandic pharmacopoeias, although it did not come into general medical use until the 18th-century in England. Mint was a popular medieval flavoring for whiskey in Scotland.
Uses: (thanks to Witchipedia for this great info)
Mint corresponds to the element Air and the planet Venus. It is a strengthening herb that aids us in psychic and verbal communication and adds strength to our words. Because mint is so often used in sweets iconic to the midwinter season, it can be used in any Winter Solstice celebration as a food additive or fragrances.
Mint was used in ancient Greek funerary rites to mask the scent of decaying bodies and was tied to Hades in myth. Thus, it is an appropriate herb to use in ritual related to the dead and the underworld.
The Key of Solomon the King recommends combining mint with vervain, fennel, lavender, sage, valerian, garden-basil, rosemary, and hyssop tied in a bundle for use as an aspergillum to sprinkle holy water while the Grimorium Verum suggests using mint, marjoram, and rosemary bundled for the same purpose.
Drunk as a tea, mint adds strength to our words, increasing the success of all oratory, including, prayers, spells, speeches and presentations, vows of love, legal arguments- or any arguments, political debates, business negotiations, and performances.
Mint is a powerful herb that can be used to increase personal strength and build up the fortitude needed to overcome difficulties and restrictions placed upon you whether through magical or mundane means. Thus, it is an excellent addition to uncrossing mixtures as well as working for courage and strength to prepare for upcoming challenges in the workplace and in relationships. It can be for breaking streaks of bad luck of all sorts and jinxes, whether self-inflicted or otherwise and it can be carried to protect from falling victim to streaks of bad luck or trickery from other people by keeping the mind alert to those “red flags” that tell us that a person or situation might be trouble down the road and helping to give us the strength to walk away before things get too bad.
Mint can be used as a floor wash or grown in and around the house to keep away trouble and troublesome people. After a disruption in the household, such as a family argument or break up, this floor wash can help return the home to calm and harmonious energy and encourage normal and fruitful communication.
Carry mint in your shoe or your pocket to prevent bad luck and other obstacles from interfering with your goals and success. Keep some in your wallet to keep your money flowing smoothly.
Combine mint with High John the Conqueror root and calamus to increase your fortitude when you’re getting ready to address whatever situation is getting in the way of your success. (Whether it be curses, crossed conditions, petty people, legal issues or red tape.)
Mint can be added to psychic-enhancing tea, incense, and fragrance oils. Placing mint under your pillow is said to encourage prophetic dreams.
Roses have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. There are 150 natural named species worldwide and thousands more cultivars. The Chinese were the first to cultivate roses and begin hybridizing them.
In the Iliad, Homer mentions that Hector‘s body was anointed with rose oil after he was killed by Achilles. The Greek poet Anacreonsays that the foam that dripped from the body of Aphrodite when she emerged from the sea turned into white roses, later, when she is mourning over the body of her lover Adonis, her tears turn a white rose red. Roses are also associated with Eros, another Greek love God. Sappho called the rose the Queen of the Flowers.
Roses were also important to the Romans. Large public rose gardens were established by the nobility. Both Horace and Pliny wrote advice on the proper growing of roses. They were used as for medicine, fragrance and as confetti at celebrations. In Roman mythology, roses are associated with Flora, Bacchus, Vertumnus, Hymen, Venus and Cupid. Roman brides and grooms were crowned with roses and they were scattered at the feet of the victorious.
In Christian folklore, the red rose has symbolized the blood and suffering of Christ, the five petals representing his five wounds. Roses have also been used to represent Mary and the purity and motherhood associated with her.
In Muslim folklore, one of Muhammed’s wives was accused of adultery. He gave her a bouquet of red roses and told her to throw them into a pool. They turned yellow, indicating her guilt. Another story says that the first rose came a drop of sweat from Muhammed’s brow.
In Jewish folklore, a man once accused a woman of a crime in retribution for refusing his advances. She was to be burned at the stake. Miraculously, the fire does not kill her, but killed him. From his ashes red roses grow, symbolizing his treachery. From the ashes at her feet grow white roses, symbolizing her innocence.
In England, if a petal falls as a rose is being cut, bad luck is sure to follow!
In Italy, only rosebuds, or partially closed roses may be given as gifts. To give a fully open rose to another marks them for death!
Rosewater is a protective agent worn on clothes.
Rose petals can be added to charms against the evil eye.
White roses worn at weddings will bring happiness and security to the couple.
Roses are used traditionally in love spells. It is great in incense and potpourri. Thorns can be used to mark wax figures.
Rosehips can be carried for general good luck or strung like beads for luck in love.
Rose hips can also be used as offerings to encourage friendly spirits to take up residence.
After my reminiscing with the spirea in the neighbour’s yard, I went home and tried to write.
Some days, nothing comes out. That is generally a sign that I need to rest the active brain and let the passive brain take over.
My husband is a big fan of passive-brain creativity and, I have to admit, my biggest writing breakthroughs usually come when I have removed myself from the computer and stuck my hands in the dirt.
So, that’s what I did today.
An afternoon later, I popped back into the writer’s studio and made solid progress.
And, a bonus tour of the garden on my back porch:
As a child, nothing ever manifested in quite such a glorious way as our backyard garden. If there was one thing my mother could do, it was to grow beautiful things (she had many talents). Our eclectic, high-altitude heaven included everything from blooming cacti and yucca plants to lilacs, Iris, and my personal favourite, the Bridal Wreath Spirea.
When I came across it this morning as bees and butterflies danced their way through the masses of blooms in our neighbour’s yard, I found myself slipping through time back to the concrete steps in Colorado Springs where I would belt out You Light Up My Life while the couple next door regretted their lives. Upon completion of the serenade, I picked unending mitts full of delicate, ivory sweetness to stuff into my mother’s best vase.
A few dog walkers and runners asked if I was OK? I couldn’t move, mesmerized by the blankets of blooms.
Explaining the method of transport I took back to my 8-year-old self proved awkward. How can one’s mind be heaved through time with such drama in a mere second, with a mere whiff, at the whim of a mere 1cm-by-1cm of flower?
The power within that moment awed me, as if the tiny buds spoke a bit of Zagavory word magic (Kat used the ancient Slavic charm in Geist) to enchant me, offer me a reprieve from the grumpiness lingering after picking up my taxes from the accountant, and deliver a message from my mother whom I lost four years ago.
After my visit to 1979, I stood in my own garden, amongst the valerian, poppies, and lavender as usual, so grateful for the quick trip. Sweet spirea portal, how I will always love thee. 🙂